Texas kicks off first primary of 2014 midterms
March 4th, 2014
10:55 AM ET
9 years ago

Texas kicks off first primary of 2014 midterms

(CNN) - The midterm election season officially gets underway Tuesday, as Texas holds the first primary contests of 2014.

The voting in the Lone Star State comes eight months to the day before Election Day in November. Here are some things to watch:

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Tea Party vs. Establishment

A top House Republican faces a tea party challenge in Tuesday's primary. Grassroots conservative activist Katrina Pierson is taking on Rep. Pete Sessions, a nine-term congressman and chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.

Pierson won the backing of top national groups such as the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks, as well as influential figures on the right such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative firebrand Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Despite her impressive list of endorsements, Pierson's fundraising lags far behind that of Sessions, the odds on favorite in the race. Sessions, who represents the Dallas area 32nd Congressional District, is one of eight GOP House leaders or committee chairs nationwide who face primary challenges this year.

Challenges from the right

Sen. John Cornyn faces a number of conservative primary challengers. The most well-known of the candidates is Rep. Steve Stockman. But Cornyn, the No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate, doesn't appear to face much of a threat Tuesday.

But Cornyn has had to alter tactics since the 2012 election of Ted Cruz, who's become a hero to grassroots conservatives. Cruz has put Cornyn and other members of the Senate GOP leadership on the defensive a number of times over some key issues.

While most pundits expect Cornyn to top the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff, look for his margin of victory to gauge anti-incumbent sentiment.

Cornyn is one of 12 Republican senators running for re-election this year, and half, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, face conservative primary challenges. While neither McConnell nor Cornyn expect to face difficult primaries, some other senators, such as Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Pat Roberts of Kansas, might face bigger challenges.

Preview for big gubernatorial showdown

Turnout in the gubernatorial race could be an indicator of what's to come in the showdown between Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, the two likely nominees in the governor's race.

Battleground Texas, a group aiming to turn the Lone Star State blue, has been working on get-out-the-vote efforts for Davis, hoping to make Republicans sweat as the state moves closer to the general election.

The race is already one of, if not the, most expensive gubernatorial contest in the country. Abbott's campaign reported having nearly $30 million cash on hand last week, while Davis' team reported having $11.3 million. Davis, however, raised slightly more than Abbott in the reporting period from January 24 to February 22.

The next generation Bush

Other statewide races worth watching include the primary for Texas land commissioner, a job George P. Bush has been gunning for this past year. Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush.

Coming from a strong political family, however, doesn't protect one from opposition. Bush, who's considered the favorite, will face off against conservative David Watts.

Nonetheless, the primary marks Bush's first big contest as he launches what many political observers expect to be a must-watch career in politics.

Another tough contest for Dewhurst

Perhaps the most vulnerable incumbent Tuesday is Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who's in a tight race with state Sen. Dan Patrick. If neither candidate exceeds 50%, they enter a run-off set for May 27.

Dewhurst, who lost the 2012 run-off for the U.S. Senate against Cruz, may find himself again in an extended primary race.

Age in the spotlight

At the age of 90, Republican Rep. Ralph Hall is the oldest member of the U.S. House. He faces a difficult road to re-nomination, with five challengers taking him on in the primary. And most of them are arguing that after Hall's more than three decades in the seat, it's time for new representation in the state's 4th Congressional District.


Filed under: 2014 • Greg Abbott • John Cornyn • Texas • Wendy Davis
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    "Sessions, who represents the Dallas area 32nd Congressional District, is one of eight GOP House leaders or committee chairs nationwide who face primary challenges this year."
    --------------------------–
    Hmmph. Ever get the feeling that someone is trying to take over Starfleet by replacing people in key positions with imposters?

    March 4, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. Thomas

    God , Guns and Texas !

    Rick Perry is my copilot .

    March 4, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    The showdown in Texas to see who is nuttier than the other is on the way. Not to mention we'll get to see how much clout the Bush name still holds in Texas.

    March 4, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. smith

    Battleground Texas ruined any chance Davis had in the race for Gov. with their disgusting rants about Abbott being in a wheelchair. Real class act..smh.

    March 4, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Smitty

    Texas, one of the few last good states with common sense.

    March 4, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. emskadittle

    why do they call a teaparty canidate "grassroots" when we know they are being payed for by special interest superpacs

    March 4, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Bill from GA

    " The voting in the Lone Star State comes eight months to the day before Election Day in November.

    Republicans are big on that these days. They hope the voters will have forgotten what idiots they were during the campaign and will believe the new lies they tell for the general election.

    March 4, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. it must be said

    DemocRATS are going down big time all over the country. The American people are sick and tired of their lies and deceit. Obama is on the TV every single night reminding us all of the damage done by the Liar of the Year. Nearly 60% of the American people don't trust him or think he is honest. The other 40% live on some other planet.

    March 4, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Ol' Yeller

    They should go all out. Bring in dubya, and cheney, and rumsfeld.... maybe gonzales and rice, too. They could campaign for them and tell the people of Texas to trust them as they have information that Wendy Davis actually has some WMD's which they plan to find right after the election.
    Nugent could perform....

    March 4, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Chris-E...al

    SO WHAT ! Repubs have a 8point lead in polls ! We are tired an sick of the lies an trix ! So done wid it.

    March 4, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Fair is Fair

    "At the age of 90, Republican Rep. Ralph Hall is the oldest member of the U.S. House. He faces a difficult road to re-nomination, with five challengers taking him on in the primary. And most of them are arguing that after Hall's more than three decades in the seat, it's time for new representation in the state's 4th Congressional District."
    ------–
    And those arguing he's been there too long are absolutely correct.

    March 4, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    Don't worry Texas, this Russian stuff will be a heavy Toll for Republicans in next election. These GOP guys are acting like brainless. Just turn Texas into straight Democratic wins.

    March 4, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Pander Bear

    Here come the crazies!!!

    March 4, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. 2_indy1600

    Dimworld has been dead in Texas since Waco. Don't expect that to change.

    March 4, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. salty dog

    Cue the clown car! The circus is coming to Texas .

    March 4, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. Dead Bear

    Everything is bigger in Texas... except their brains.

    March 4, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Teapot dome and their tea bags

    Big choices in a big state: Perry the governor nut jobs, Perry the real estate mogul nut jobs, Koch nut jobs, tea party nut jobs, republic of Texas nut jobs, the country club elite republicans, and a lot of fringe groups claiming some nonsense.

    March 4, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Thomas

    After listening to Jim DeMint yesterday describing Washington insiders a big government bought and payed for lobbyist's as the problem .

    I couldn't stop laughing , Jim DeMint with the heritage foundation is the highest paid lobbyist in DC .

    Jim DiMent / Rick Perry 2016
    Give me Dr Pepper and Rebel Yell or give me death !

    March 4, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. 2_indy1600

    @salty dog

    March 4, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Gurgyl

    Don't worry Texas, this Russian stuff will be a heavy Toll for Republicans in next election.
    -------
    Clueless. Absolutely clueless.

    March 4, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. 2_indy1600

    @salty dog "The circus is coming to Texas."
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    No, the circus came to Texas in the form of federal tanks on private property in 1993 under Bill Clinton. PLEASE bring him here to campaign for Windy. 76 dead americans after 51-day standoff, or are you all under 20?

    March 4, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    @Ol'Yeller, it is unfair, you burst my tommy right after eating my lunch, reading they have WMD which they find right after election.......I laughed, laughed, laughed. Thank you.

    March 4, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    "At the age of 90, Republican Rep. Ralph Hall is the oldest member of the U.S. House. He faces a difficult road to re-nomination, with five challengers taking him on in the primary. And most of them are arguing that after Hall's more than three decades in the seat, it's time for new representation in the state's 4th Congressional District."

    And those arguing he's been there too long are absolutely correct.
    ----------------------------------
    It's not his fault. It seems that he's been there ever since Dutch passed the Reagan Rule. I doubt that he's had many serious primary challenges over the decades. That's not his fault. I'd blame the Party, and then the perhaps the voters. Voters mostly only vote for the name that is on the ballot. If they liked him, they got their money's worth.

    March 4, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts eat each other as they walk the plank toward another November.

    March 4, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    -2_indy1600

    @salty dog "The circus is coming to Texas."
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    No, the circus came to Texas in the form of federal tanks on private property in 1993 under Bill Clinton. PLEASE bring him here to campaign for Windy. 76 dead americans after 51-day standoff, or are you all under 20?
    **************
    Did you also remember that David Koresh was a whack job who molested littel girls as part of his " faith", and then shot at ATF agents who were executing a legal search warrant? Is your memory that selective, or did you forget the sight of House Republican squirming as young girls talked about their molestation in House hearings that they called for? Is your IQ under 20, or are you a Ted Nugent fan?

    March 4, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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